I had what can only be described as a fantastic meal.
First the ambiance. The place simultaneously manages to create a comfortable yet elegant environment. There not too many tables, they are very elegantly set, but the service is professional while also being incredibly friendly and approcheable. I ate at the bar alone and they made me feel quite at home.
The presentation of the dishes was also creative and elegant without going overboard into architectural feats.
On to the drinks. I started with the Pink Salty Dog, which was a slight variation on the classic. The rim was salted with a mixture of artisinal salt and sugar which worked very well with the tartness and sweetness of the beverage. The drink also adds grenadine and campari which works nicely. Overall the cocktails were all very creative and looked great. Though at $15 a pop you can only have one.
I ate two appetisers but for a solo dinner they were the perfect amount of food.
I started with the Octopus Tart, something I've never seen on a menu before. It was a conventional tart pastry with diced tomatoes and a tentacle of octopus on top. On the side were pearl onions and a beurre rouge sauce. The flavour combination was great and balanced. The beurre rouge sauce in particular was an excellent addition. And the freshness of the diced tomatoes cut through the sauce so that the dish was not too heavy.
I just have one minor constructive criticism. The tart pastry was a little bit too tough. I would have prefered it to be a little more delicate.
Next, I had the lamb sausage with the green pea risotto. I ordered this cautiously because I generally find lamb sausages to be overwhelming in flavour. Likewise, in my experience, risotto is usually not very good in restaurants, a good risotto takes an hour to make so that the flavour can be fully absorbed. My reservations were unfounded. The lamb sausages were little and the creaminess of the perfectly crafted risotto balanced out the strong flavour of the lamb. The peas strangely enough added a layer of complexity of the taste of the lamb sausages.
My only constructive criticism is that it would have been nice to have about 1/3 more lamb. I found myself rationing the lamb sausages at the end of the dish.
I finished my night with the creme brulee of the week, which happened to be a lavender creme brulee with a vanilla bean ice cream. The desert was presented on a wooden board with the brulee on one side and the ice cream on a separate dish; the presentation looked great. The lavender creme was a delicate flavour, and the caramel was more flavourful that I would ordinarily expect. Likewise, the ice cream was one of the better ones that I've had. As good as can be expected from a restaurant without a pastry chef.
My one criticism is that the caramel crust on top was a little bit too thick. This is a difficult balancing act because when it's too thin, you don't get that satisfying texture and crunch which contrasts the cream below. Here, the opposite happened, because the caramel was too thick, I had difficulties cracking it, and it ended up mushing into the creme. But this is a minor criticism for a great dish.
In terms of pricing, all of the above plus a 1/2 litre of wine came out to $88 with tax and tip.
All in all, I had a fantastic meal and I definitely plan to return again next year. I thank the staff for being so friendly and for making me feel at home.
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